Building the SBC COMMUNITY: An Open Innovation brand is developing – Nurturing Innovation

I’ve been asked several times now, ‘What is Open Innovation?’ and ‘What is the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst all about?’ It’s a question I love answering and then concluding with a ‘Do you get it?’ question of my own. I start by saying that to come to the Catalyst you do not have to give away an arm, a leg or your first born child to take residence! Fortunately, that question comes up rarely these days. More people get it.

That being said, when in a discussion about tenancy, your first question better not be about price. I love a conversation that starts with, ‘Tell me about the vision’ or even, ‘How do I get to engage with the community, and in parti IP and research-based opportunities that all “Get it”.

So, what is IT? First and foremost, it’s about changing attitudes and cultures in both academia and industry, from small to large organisations.  It’s about getting them both to recognize that there is another way of developing and translating research in the life sciences, and early engagement through partnership, collaboration and yes, even open innovation, might just make a difference in commercialising an opportunity.  We are all striving for a model that enhances time to market in an optimal way for those innovations that tick the faster, better, cheaper boxes, so why not take a different approach?  

Open Innovation, as with all innovation approaches, is truly a contact sport. It must never be seen as a panacea and is merely one tool in the tool box. I seem to be spending less time explaining this now and more time watching tenants actually engage in it- truly early stage collaboration activities of all sizes with little or no money exchanging hands. Activities include regular tenant coffee morning meetings to speak and engage, more formal “SBC Connect” events where one can present to a GSK R&D audience, joint poster sessions, and information sessions about how to access GE’s latest cell technologies (as well as antibody production and analytical platforms) on site.  

Tenants and staff alike are prone to hearing me look to make connections and provide guidance at every opportunity- “Why not talk to Suki from Labstract about access to Chemistry and Biology related platforms in the Community zone? Did you hear we have a FACS Arria on site for flow cytometry analysis?  Do you think we should have a science seminar around cell therapies? Have you been to one of the tenant meetings, they are great!  You want to access our Expert’s Panel for discussions around your business plan? You want us to introduce you to Chris at Syncona or Louis at Kurma? You need Barbara Domayne-Hayman, our Entrepreneur in Residence, to help write a grant funding application or advise on your current approach to market? Is Christina Patino (our Business Development Executive) able to find you a technical expert through her University contacts?”

Questions from tenants and partners on how to access hi-spec equipment through Labstract, how to reach an expert to provide feedback on a business plan, or how to get an introduction to one of our VC partners are all welcome inquiries and prove to me that someone gets it. cular, GSK?’.  That shows me the customer recognizes how we’re differentiated from other incubators and sees the overall vision of what SBC is trying to do.  The nice thing about this “vision” is you no longer have to take my word for it. Now, precedent has been set that if you build an Incubator and Accelerator next to one of the biggest Pharma in the world, not only do tenants come, but the quality and diversity is truly impressive, as well.  From very early stage all the way up to Phase 1 clinical development, since opening our doors in February 2012 we have created an impressive array of IP and research-based opportunities that all “Get it”.

So, what is IT? First and foremost, it’s about changing attitudes and cultures in both academia and industry, from small to large organisations.  It’s about getting them both to recognize that there is another way of developing and translating research in the life sciences, and early engagement through partnership, collaboration and yes, even open innovation, might just make a difference in commercialising an opportunity.  We are all striving for a model that enhances time to market in an optimal way for those innovations that tick the faster, better, cheaper boxes, so why not take a different approach?  

Open Innovation, as with all innovation approaches, is truly a contact sport. It must never be seen as a panacea and is merely one tool in the tool box. I seem to be spending less time explaining this now and more time watching tenants actually engage in it- truly early stage collaboration activities of all sizes with little or no money exchanging hands. Activities include regular tenant coffee morning meetings to speak and engage, more formal “SBC Connect” events where one can present to a GSK R&D audience, joint poster sessions, and information sessions about how to access GE’s latest cell technologies (as well as antibody production and analytical platforms) on site.  

Tenants and staff alike are prone to hearing me look to make connections and provide guidance at every opportunity- “Why not talk to Suki from Labstract about access to Chemistry and Biology related platforms in the Community zone? Did you hear we have a FACS Arria on site for flow cytometry analysis?  Do you think we should have a science seminar around cell therapies? Have you been to one of the tenant meetings, they are great!  You want to access our Expert’s Panel for discussions around your business plan? You want us to introduce you to Chris at Syncona or Louis at Kurma? You need Barbara Domayne-Hayman, our Entrepreneur in Residence, to help write a grant funding application or advise on your current approach to market? Is Christina Patino (our Business Development Executive) able to find you a technical expert through her University contacts?”

Questions from tenants and partners on how to access hi-spec equipment through Labstract, how to reach an expert to provide feedback on a business plan, or how to get an introduction to one of our VC partners are all welcome inquiries and prove to me that someone gets it.  

It has been a busy period during both pre and post summer holidays for the SBC team. Coming out of a Board Strategy Day with a clear mandate and strategy is always a good sign that our stakeholders appear pleased with both the progress and quality of projects, people and companies that we are attracting. It is into this exciting phase that I have great pleasure in welcoming Miranda Knaggs from Biocity as our new Marketing Manager.  Miranda is a friend and long-standing colleague in the Bio-Incubation community. She is currently Chair of the UK Bioincubation Forum and comes with a vast knowledge of how to create a buzz amongst a vibrant and diverse SME community. It has been great to see her get cracking and engaged with the community and she will be a tremendous help to me personally.

Also, we welcome Emma Palmer Foster, Harry Finch, Berwyn Clarke and Nick Pay to our growing SBC Experts Panel, a really important part of SBC’s offering. Meanwhile, our Entrepreneur inResidence, Barbara Domayne-Hayman, continues to provide great support to our tenants and to me personally on matters strategic.  Christina Patino, our Business Development Executive, is preparing for her latest SBC/ Discover Assist Roadshow in Northern Ireland, where we have many friends and potential collaborators. This, we hope, is further evidence of a UKplc approach to our catalytic role in enhancing translation of research and commercialisation of opportunities.

We all really enjoyed the Official Opening of the GE “Show Lab” recently by Kieran Murphy, President and CEO of GE Life Sciences division, and Sir William Castell, Chairman of the Wellcome Trust . We have also had a flurry of fantastic science seminars from Lifelines (Groningen Healthy Ageing Campus) and Queen Mary (Barts and William Harvey); the science seminar series is a very important component of the building of the community.  We are engaged with the NHS locally, through the Eastern Academic Health Science network and our recent announcement of work around future neuro-therapeutics with MIMIT. Further exciting news on progress with tenancy and the development of our Accelerator facility came with the MRCT announcement for the leasing of space and we look forward to progressing with design and fit-out of the Accelerator Building. Additionally, we now have a date for the OI Summit 2 of January 28th, 2014.

We will be officially launching our new Open Innovation portal at the OI Summit and we will be looking for contributions from the community. We continue to strive to create something unique here at Stevenage and we welcome new tenants, partners and projects to our growing community. In summary, as with all these initiatives related to culture change and doing things differently, it is always about the people that you engage with and whether they get it, having the support of stakeholders, and of course, the empowerment and accountability to deliver that matters most…

Written By Martino Picardo, CEO, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst www.stevenagecatalyst.com

 The One Nucleus blog is written by individuals and is not necessarily a reflection of the views held by One Nucleus.

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About onenucleus

The One Nucleus blog is written by individuals and is not necessarily a reflection of the views held by One Nucleus.
This entry was posted in November 2013. Bookmark the permalink.

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